19 charged in $4.5M Ottawa-Akwesasne drug bust
Police have laid more than 230 charges against 19 people and seized an estimated $4.5 million worth of drugs after an 18-month investigation into an alleged marijuana production, distribution and smuggling ring in eastern Ontario.
The arrests took place following the execution of 18 search warrants in Ottawa, one in Alexandria and one in the community of Akwesasne on Tuesday, an Ottawa police news release said Wednesday.
The investigation, called Project Scarecrow, was conducted jointly with the RCMP and the Ontario Provincial Police into a Ottawa-based organization that allegedly produced, trafficked and distributed marijuana throughout the Ottawa area and imported it into the United States via smuggling conduits in the Akwesasne Mohawk community, the release said.
Charges against the accused — who are mostly residents of Ottawa but include one person from Cornwall Island and one person from London, Ont. — include conspiracy to produce and traffic controlled substances, possession of controlled substances for the purpose of trafficking, participating in a criminal organization and laundering proceeds of crime.
Police found large-scale indoor marijuana grow operations in suburban homes in Stittsville and Kanata, and seized plants with a street value that they estimated at $3.8 million. In total, the amount of marijuana, cocaine and ecstasy seized during the operation was estimated to be worth $4.5 million, the release said.
Canadian Border Services Agency, Akwasasne Police and authorities in upstate New York also assisted in the operation.
The Akwesasne police arrested one person Tuesday and the U.S. Department of Justice has three federal warrants for Canadian citizens in relation to the case.